Soccer: Reid to captain All Whites

By Michael Brown

Winston Reid has been named the new captain of the All Whites. Photo / Richard Robinson
Winston Reid has been named the new captain of the All Whites. Photo / Richard Robinson

Winston Reid has been anointed as Ryan Nelsen's successor and will be handed the captain's armband for Friday night's World Cup qualifier against New Caledonia.

It's understood coach Ricki Herbert met Reid last night when the All Whites gathered in Dunedin and asked the West Ham defender to captain the side for the foreseeable future.

"It's a tremendous honour and privilege to captain your country and I'm humbled by the opportunity,'' Reid said following the All Whites first training session in Dunedin.

Nelsen recently retired from all football to take over as Toronto FC coach, ending a successful era highlighted by New Zealand's unbeaten run at the 2010 World Cup.

Wellington Phoenix captain Andrew Durante was seen as an option to take over but he is still to get official clearance to play for New Zealand, as was Ipswich defender Tommy Smith.

Smith captained the side in the absence of both Nelsen and Reid for last year's failed Oceania Nations Cup campaign in the Solomon Islands and has been named vice-captain.

Reid has taken over from Nelsen as New Zealand's highest-profile player and has captained West Ham in both the Premier League and FA Cup in recent weeks. It's that responsibility which appears to have swayed Herbert's mind.

"We've thought long and hard about this decision,'' Herbert said. "Winston plays and at a high level week in and week out and has captained his side in that environment, just as Ryan Nelsen did previously.

"For a young man to have that level of responsibility speaks volumes of his character, especially when you look at his peers in similar roles within the Premier League.''

It will be interesting to see how often Reid plays for the All Whites and he has already been the centre of a club-vs-country tug-of-war. He has played only 14 internationals since making his debut against Australia in the build-up to the 2010 World Cup and has missed 11 of the last 18 All Whites games.

Last year West Ham manager Sam Allardyce was unhappy about his call-up to the All Whites to play two World Cup qualifiers against Tahiti when carrying an injury and Reid also opted out of the Olympics squad to focus on West Ham pre-season training. Reid became an instant hit with New Zealand football fans when he famously scored his only goal in injury time in the All Whites' opening match at the World Cup to snatch a dramatic 1-1 draw with Slovakia.

He previously played for Denmark at youth level before switching allegiance to the country of his birth.

NZF are still waiting for a more definitive ruling from Fifa on Durante's eligibility. Fifa initially said they thought Durante was eligible but it was up to NZF to decide whether to play him or not.

It's unlikely he will be risked against New Caledonia if NZF don't hear from Fifa before Friday because they risk having a win overturned if he is found ineligible.


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